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I’ve seen over the last few years that as social media and its influence continues to grow, it becomes more and more difficult to know who you are and what it means to have a unique identity. Social media is constantly creating standards that we often feel we need to live up to and promote because a collective group tells us that they are right. I can’t imagine what our world would be like without the standards social media has set for us. Media in general, specifically print media, has been the long-time source for standards of beauty. Over decades these standards change, but with every change, there are always massive groups of people left out who don’t fit the current identity of “Beautiful.” Today, I’d like to talk about why it’s important to understand and EMBRACE why the majority of us fit outside the standards, why we are all still beautiful, and how to have body positivity.
OWN your Body & Love who you are
I believe there is nothing wrong with wanting to change your body. Health and Positivity are the two words that come to mind when I think of someone saying they want to change their appearance. Whether that change in appearance comes with weight loss, weight gain, surgical enhancement, or minor enhancements, all of these changes, however, should only be made with the mindset of doing it for yourself. Any change you make to your body should always be done with the perspective of growing more confident and happier with who you are, never with a compulsive need to look like someone else or fulfill someone else’s ideal standard of beauty. There is nothing wrong with losing weight to feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get lip fillers or a breast enhancement if you want to change those parts of your body so that YOU feel confident. But it’s often the toxicity of change that leads people to make unhealthy or unnecessary changes that aren’t under the guise of feeling more confident but are made to mold themselves under the current standard of beauty.
Your Mental & Physical Health should = Body Positivity
Weight loss has been a topic of controversy for several years now. Because of incredibly high standards of beauty and the unrealistic expectations for women to meet them, a very unhealthy relationship has been created between women and weight loss, meaning being body positive is even more difficult. More often than not, you don’t “need” to lose weight. I myself have always been of a higher weight than most of my friends, and I struggled with it for years. I always felt “fat” and not as attractive as my friends.
When I hit a plateau in my life, I realized that my friends or the current standard of beauty weren’t my issue; it was me. I was depressed, stressed, and at rock bottom. When I began to take care of myself, eating better, and working out, I saw a change, not just in my appearance, but in my attitude, my emotions, and my routine. My journey with body positivity has taken me through several highs and lows. Until I had people in my life offering and sharing their knowledge of issues people can have with their bodies, I had never considered the repercussions of saying “I look fat” or “You look so skinny,” because you never know if someone struggles with a body image issue.
In June of 2020, when I decided to take control of my life, one of the things I really wanted to do was to become an overall healthier person. I wanted to change the things I ate, drop a little extra weight, and start drinking more water. When I decided to start this journey, I considered people who have struggled in the past with body image issues. I wanted it to be ok for me to want to do this, so I decided to do it in the most healthy and positive way possible. So, this is the game plan I gave myself – I am in no way an expert, a doctor, or a trainer; I am simply sharing with you the plan that is working for me in the most positive and healthy way.
My Game Plan
I have never once, nor will I ever, call what I am doing a diet. Simply making adjustments to what I eat, a little less here, a little more there—less sugar, less deserts, more protein, and chicken, and I feel healthier. I try and always remind myself that I never need to “treat myself,” if I want to eat something, then I just eat it. Having a positive relationship with food is so incredibly important; if you decide to “diet” and don’t have a healthy relationship with food, this is often how eating disorders can form.
Exercise: I didn’t want exercise just to be my way to slim down. I danced for years, so being active has always been a part of who I am and something I enjoyed. Then, after my recent knee surgery, I knew I needed something that was going to both help rehab my knee, help get me feeling more fit, healthy, and get me active again. So, after a long talk, my mom and I decided to hire a trainer to help me get back in the gym to rebuild my relationship with fitness. Not only has this person become one of my closest friends, but she helped strengthen my knee and rebuild that positive relationship with physical activity that I needed. Now, five months later, I love going to the gym; it’s a fix for me. Going to the gym and working out gets me pumped for the day and gives me a positive outlook.
And finally, my mantra. I tell myself it’s not about a number on a scale; I don’t care about how much I weigh; it will never be about the number. I simply want to get to a point where I am happy and positive with my body. Building muscle, slimming down, this is what I’m trying to do. I’m not fixated on stepping on a scale and seeing what I weigh each week; that toxicity is not welcome. In fact, in the five months since I’ve started working on living healthier, I have stepped on a scale three times. I have never allowed this number to define my progress, worth, or beauty. It’s simply a number, and my confidence is defined by how I feel about myself and not just my outward appearance.
Remember, Intentional Living is all about loving the life you live and creating a space in which you thrive and live fully. You cannot do that without a strong grasp on your mental and physical health, and body positivity. So, now that we’re at the end, let me say it again; I believe there is nothing wrong with wanting to change your body. But always remember to do it on your terms. Stay body-positive, and always remember, no matter what the standards of beauty are set to and no matter what the number is on the scale, you’re a goddess.
Read the most recent update on my body journey on the Blog, How My Fitness Routine has Given Me Strength in My Intentional Life.
Lori Pinkalla says
Lauren, this was a really great article. I hope it encourages people to make changes to make themselves a better version of themselves for themselves. Once we are happy with ourself, we can be a better person for whatever it is we want to do it accomplish in life. Well done!